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BARS + DRINK
o longer content with simply
having our cake and eating it,
now it seems we want to eat
our cake, have a few drinks
afterwards and maintain a healthy lifestyle
while we're at it.
�is desire for healthy hedonism, or
'alco-health' as it's been dubbed, has seen
London bars and restaurants concocting
virtuous menus of 'healthy' cocktails
with an extra serving of nutritious and
medicinal ingredients -
and no hangover.
Known as shims
(named after the small
bits of wood used in
carpentry and wedged
under restaurant table
legs - drinks to keep
you level, as it were)
thanks to Dinah Sanders' low-alcohol
cocktail book �e Art of the Shim, these
mixes replace high-octane spirits with
low-abv alcohol, swap sugar syrups for
superfoods and, in some places, combine
hair of the dog with downward dog.
Even the big brands are at it. Belvedere
Vodka has just launched an All Natural
Manifesto offering 12 low-sugar serving
suggestions packed with low-cal, naturally
flavoured ingredients (recipe on p.115).
"We've seen a paradigm shift towards
healthier lifestyles… so it's little surprise
it's reached our cocktails," says leading
London nutritionist Angelique Panagos.
"We're now demanding products that
fit with our changing lifestyles - and for
many this doesn't stop come Friday night."
So, is it all watered-down Whisky
Sours and tasteless tequilas? Far from it.
Bartenders have been getting creative,
replacing the hard stuff with low-abv
choices such as vermouth and herbal
liqueurs, and swapping saccharine mixers
for more natural alternatives.
At Oblix at �e Shard, for example,
bar manager Wendy Stoklasova uses
herbal Becherovka as a base for many of
her cocktails, while at Marcus Wareing's
Tredwell's restaurant on Upper St Martin's
Lane, head barman Dav Eames likes to
"guarantee customers spend their night
focused on enjoyment and not their
waistlines," offering a Sherry Cobbler of
spritz, sherry and vermouth.
"Ultimately, people are not restricting
themselves entirely but making more
conscious choices so they can indulge
those cravings while cutting back on
ingredients that are processed or packed
full of sugar," says Eames. "And we've seen
a huge increase in demand."
At Drake & Morgan King's Cross,
bar manager Jay Newell has taken to fatwashing
alcohol, a clever technique to add
savoury flavour and nutrients to spirits - in
Newell's case, using
coconut oil with a
Daiquiri, which is
chilled down and after
a few hours has the fat
"�e result is
incredible. �e punch
of the rum remains,
the mouth feels velvety and the finish is
beautiful, subtle coconut," he says.
SWEET AS HONEY
It's not just alcohol packing a punch in
the calorie department, of course; there's
the artery-coating syrups and mixers too.
Many London bars are beginning to swap
processed sugar syrups for more natural
sweeteners, such as agave nectar and
manuka honey, and using mixers
such as soda water, cold-pressed veg
juice and coconut water.
We're demanding products that fit with
our changing lifestyles - and for many
this doesn't stop come Friday night
The London bar scene is embracing demure drinking, as
customers turn to vitamin-rich cocktails and low-sugar,
low-cal ingredients to go with their eat-clean lifestyles
WORDS ALICE WHITEHEAD ILLUSTRATION BARBARA SPOETTEL